California-based JetPack Aviation recently announced that its Speeder VTOL has been selected by the highly competitive AFWERX High Speed VTOL (HSVTOL) Concept Challenge, launched in partnership with the US Air Force (USAF) and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). JetPack Aviation is one of three OEMs included in the 35 successful challengers, which were selected from a total of 218 submissions. Initial presentations are being made to the AFWERX representatives this week to highlight the capabilities of the Speeder and its potential applications for military operations.
Looking to satisfy mission profiles including the infiltration and exfiltration of Special Operations Forces (SOF), personnel recovery, aeromedical evacuation, and tactical mobility at jet-type speeds, the JetPack Aviation Speeder VTOL fits the HSVTOL concept well. Powered by small, gimballed turbojet engines, the Speeder promises to reach speeds approaching 300 mph, with the type of payload capability currently available only from considerably larger helicopter airframes. The Speeder’s footprint is also considerably reduced since it has no rotors, ducted fans, or propellers, which reduces/negates the need for specific ground infrastructure.
Launching the HSVTOL Concept Challenge, Reid Melville, Chief Innovation Officer, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Transformational Capabilities Office, said: “The USAF and USSOCOM are seeking groundbreaking ideas that will further strengthen operational effectiveness and efficiency in contested, resource-constrained, and runway-independent settings.” Those who progress through the challenge rounds may become eligible for funding associated with research, development, and testing, and subsequently procurement contracts to produce and field aircraft to the USAF.
Easily transportable in a car or motorcycle trailer, and immediately ready to fly, with no charging or other aviation infrastructure requirements, the Speeder offers high-speed forward flight with control and lift effected by aerodynamic surfaces as required, building on the aircraft’s ability to fly on engine thrust vectoring. The Speeder is modular, offering a variety of missionized payloads, optionally piloted and simple enough to operate and maintain under austere field conditions. The aircraft burns regular Jet A-1, kerosene, or diesel, but in a recent cooperative supply agreement with Prometheus Fuels Inc., JetPack Aviation has committed to using 100% zero net carbon fuel in all its own future operations.
JetPack Aviation has completed flight trials with the first full scale Speeder – P1 prototype. Flight test of P1.5, the second full scale prototype, is expected to begin in late 2021. Aircraft P2, featuring a fully formed body, small field-removable wings, and forward canards, should fly in 2022. Thanks to its unique combination of heavy payload, speed, VTOL operation, simplicity and autonomous flight options, the Speeder will offer a wide range of special missions capability, with longer term application to the urban air mobility market.
JetPack Aviation spent millions of R&D dollars between 2009 and 2015, designing, building, and testing a series of JetPack designs that led to the JB10, the world’s first FAA-approved jetpack. JetPack Aviation’s wider mission is to create a range of VTOL aircraft that will save lives and revolutionize complex special missions. Based on its Speeder design and capable of carrying heavy payloads, the aircraft are small, transportable, optionally piloted, and fast. They have no rotors or lift fans, reducing operational footprint and complexity, and while JetPack Aviation’s initial focus is on special missions, they have obvious longer-term application to the urban air mobility market. From 2022, all of JetPack Aviation’s aircraft will operate using zero net carbon fuels supplied by Prometheus Fuels Inc.
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